The Big Preview – Hartlepool United

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After seven months without a competitive game, Stockport County kick off the new National League season with the long trip down to Torquay on Saturday. We’re a little bit sad here at The Viaduct, because we should already be on a train down to the English Riviera for a good old County seaside weekend in Devon. But that’s not to be just yet. However, we’re still looking forward to the new season, and we’re continuing to interview fans of all the teams County will be facing over the next eight months or so. Jack Twydale is next up, who follows Hartlepool.

What are your thoughts on Stockport County?
I made my first trip to Stockport last season, for a televised Wednesday night game. (Being in my early 20s, I wasn’t old enough to do away games on my own when we were both in League One!) Everyone was friendly and helpful, especially when I couldn’t find a parking space upon arrival at the ground. The manager seems to know what he is doing, and has signed two players we know well in Mark Kitching and Macaulay Southam-Hales. The former was better going forward than defending, but always seemed to cut inside from the left which was infuriating as he was left footed! As for MSH, we had him on loan last season and he was a revelation on the right hand side; we really wanted to see him sign permanently. I expect Stockport to be up there challenging this season.

Best moment of last season?
Winning 5-1 at Chesterfield in November. I was due to go but ended up with food poisoning, the result cheered me up no end! The 4-1 win at Yeovil in the FA Cup is also a contender, an absolutely mammoth 12 hour round trip on a Tuesday night, completely worth it for an excellent performance.

Worst moment of last season?
Results wise, the 4-1 defeat at Harrogate was a shocking performance. They’ve been a bogey team for us since we dropped into the division. We’re delighted they’ve gone up! The 2-0 defeat to Dover was also horrendous due to the actions of a couple of individuals in the crowd, which was dealt with by the club and the fans during the following days in a swift and exemplary manner.

Covid stopping the season early. Good or bad for your club?
We were 9th at the time, but everyone had at least one game in hand over us, and as we were very inconsistent at the time, it was looking unlikely we could sneak into the play-offs. There was still a chance though, so the early end was probably unwelcome.

If restrictions have been lifted, what indoor places should County fans check out in Hartlepool?
The museum on the marina is always worth a visit, and there are plenty of restaurants and pubs around to pass the time before a match. The Corner Flag and the Centenary Lounge are on the stadium site itself, so that would save rushing to the ground before kick-off!

And if restrictions haven’t been lifted, how about outside places?
The marina is always popular, as is the Historic Quay; both are only 10-15 minutes walk away from the ground. Seaton Carew has a beach on the North Sea, and the Heugh Gun Battery is located at the Headland, further up the coastline.

Which team do you most want to beat this season?
All of them! In all honesty, with Barrow and Harrogate gone, we don’t have any local derbies left – our nearest is Halifax. If our ambition is (and should be) going up, we need to do well against the other top sides.

Realistically, how do you think you’ll do this season?
My hope is that we will be challenging for promotion; Dave Challinor is the best managerial appointment we’ve made for some time. With experience in non-league and the chance to make his own signings, there is a sense from the fans that he could be the man to take us back up. Realistically, I think a top 7 finish should be the minimum to achieve, but the squad should be aiming higher. We can only hope, and as we always say, Never Say Die!

And here’s a few other bits and bobs we’ve added ourselves…..

Last time at County: A 2-1 win in front of the BT Sport cameras last October, with first half goals from Ashley Palmer and Tom Walker.

Last time at Hartlepool: A miserable 2-0 defeat in January.

Where is Hartlepool? On the North Sea coast. It’s freezing.

How do County fans get there, if they’re allowed? Don’t bother. We’ve won at Hartlepool once in the last thirty years.

What’s the latest Hartlepool news? (Well, the thing that came up most recently when we Googled ‘Hartlepool’) The town has gone into local lockdown. Join the club, Hartlepool.

When are County due to play Hartlepool? It’s a Saturday trip to the North East in November, with Hartlepool due at Edgeley Park in March.

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